My sister was already in love with Kyle Niedermeyer. I use the term loosely, of course—the way she did. She’d had a crush on him since their freshman year and it had only gotten worse for her the more she realized he just wasn’t interested.
I think it might be that she was coming on too strong. Kyle liked a challenge—not romantically, per se, but intellectually. Someone stimulating. Someone he could argue with. Aly was not that person. She would argue, but over stupid stuff. The big questions, she’d just shrug and assume they were beyond her.
Then when Dad left, things got worse still. I guess Aly always had kind of a daddy issue—don’t we all?—or maybe just abandonment fears from the thing with her mom, that then transferred over pretty damn smoothly.
I don’t want to say that my sister was only after attention. I don’t think attention was the goal. It’s not like she adventised (much), she wasn’t extraordinarily theatrical or bombastic. She just wanted affection. Dad had never really been good at that, but having him there was still better than nothing and once he left—well, what’s a teenage girl to do when her dad leaves and her crush won’t go for her?
She turned to his best friend. Not Mickey—hell no, she wouldn’t touch Mickey for all the weed in Portland. But Tommy was easy enough to wrap around her finger. What with his own insecurities, a lot of them bound up with the knowledge that not only were both his brother and his best friend far more talented than he was, but they would probably get along better with each other that they did with him, and then where would he be?
Or maybe none of that actually mattered to him. I guess it doesn’t have to matter to a teenage boy why he chooses to sleep with a girl—it probably doesn’t even matter to the girl. Most girls, anyway. Or some, at least. Most guys.
Just like it wouldn’t really have mattered to him, in that moment of being seduced, that it wasn’t really him she wanted. Later, of course, sure. Later everything mattered much more. But in the moment, all there was, was flesh and the hormones that steered it.
What really mattered, later on, was that Aly got pregnant.
I remember seeing the look on Jasper’s face when he found out. I already knew, of course. I’d had front-row seats, like it or not, to the main event at a preview before it even opened, but I got to see on Jasper’s face the awkward revelation that our sister had been having sex, how his brain rewired itself, in the way teenagers’ brains have a way of doing, to drag and drop his image of his sister from the folder marked “fellow-virgins” to a locked folder of “prophets of the bedroom”. He didn’t want to imagine the event, of course (not that there’d been much to it, to be frank), but yet he coveted the imagery with morbid fascination.
Mom wasn’t surprised. She was furious, of course—“God dammit, Aly,” she sighed. But she wasn’t surprised. “What are you gonna do now? We can barely afford—“ She groaned aloud in frustration.
“I’ll get a job,” Aly promised. “He’ll probably get a job…”
“Was it Kyle?” Mom knew about that particular crush, because she paid attention, but had never actually realized Kyle didn’t share the feelings.
“Tommy,” Aly corrected, and I’ve rarely heard two syllables contain so much conflicting emotion.
“Well, I hope you’re fucking satisfied,” Mom sighed as she gathered up the plates to put them into the sink. As if those words meant a damn thing.
About a week later, just when Aly was coming around to the idea of an abortion, she miscarried. It was hard, even though having it would have been harder, but the damage had been done. She’d outed herself for nothing. Now not only did everyone at school who mattered know she was a slut, she knew that when push came to shove, she couldn’t really count on her stepmom to side with her if it meant any kind of inconvenience to her real kids.